Prior to the university’s transition to virtual instruction for the rest of the spring and summer semesters, the student body elected Lucy Yu, a third-year hospitality management student, and Manshaan Singh, a third-year environmental biology student, as its next Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) president and vice president, respectively.
Yu and Singh, who currently serve in ASI student government, discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, as well as their plans for the next academic year, with The Poly Post on March 31 through Zoom.
How have you felt about the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic so far, and what do you think ASI can do to help students struggling right now?
Yu: Currently, I’m working with MDPR (Marketing, Design & Public Relations), our marketing department, to create a virtual engagement center. I want to create a hub on our ASI page for different links and different branches to help people. To give you a little context, what it’s going to look like is one part of the website is going to be for our student-parents and different links to entertain the kids, or games with the kids to keep (them) occupied at home during this time (when) they can’t go outside, they can’t see their friends and they can’t go to school. I want another branch to be different resources that the school is putting out, whether it is their updates on what’s going on with (COVID-19) and what they’re doing to help our students or student services, and if you do need assistance, if you do need help, what are our campus resources for that. Another one’s also going to be more individual, what are you doing at home to help yourself, whether it’s like meditating or home workouts, it would be links to different YouTube videos of, like I said, meditations, home workouts, workshops on like adulting 101, and those are some examples.
During the debate, Lucy, you mentioned that you felt there was a lack of respect from the university concerning discrimination and campus climate. What do you think the university could be doing better right now to tackle these issues?
Yu: I think something that the university could be doing better is listening and having conversations. We have to work together; nothing is going to get done at the end of the day (and) nobody’s going to be happy at the end of the day if we don’t work together. And I’m not saying just students aren’t going to be happy, the administration isn’t gonna be happy either. So, I think that sitting down and listening to our students …. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t understand why they haven’t seen it before, or why we haven’t seen action from their side before, but I think that, hopefully, this resolution (ASI Resolution on Campus Climate) will push them to have a click in their brain of, ‘Oh shoot. OK, let’s really get on this now because formal documents are now coming out.’
In your action plan, you talked about issues that ASI has full control over, like more funding to the Poly Pantry and establishing longer hours for the library, but you also mentioned issues that you want to advocate for but that are ultimately in the university’s purview. Could you talk about what those issues and proposals are and how you are going to make the university adopt those?
Singh: Those issues are: emergency housing, alternative transportation, the orientation club fair, the anti-bias trainings, which is kind of contingent on whether or not the unions put it in their contracts this semester, and then also better class times and better classroom technology.
With emergency housing, we do already have an emergency housing program. Right now, it operates on a grant from the state government. So, there’s nothing actually coming from the university funding for it …. What we’d like to see is greater support for the emergency housing program, or the emergency cash program too by really advocating for the university to change the way they’re funding the entire university, like putting more money towards these emergency programs.
Alternative transportation I think we might have better luck on because the new Executive Director of Transportation & Planning Danny Wu is kind of on the same page in terms of what we’d like to see for better alternative transportation, especially with more shuttles going to and from overflow parking lots. He’s pretty down for more shuttles in general.
The anti-bias training, what we’d like to do is get that on our campus next year, but it’s contingent on whether the unions put that in their contract this summer, so that’s why we’re passing a resolution at CSSA (Cal State Student Association) for the anti-bias training in the union contracts.
The orientation club fair. That’s something that, that’s just basically working with orientation on all throughout next year. It’s too late for this summer, I don’t even know how orientation is going to look like for this summer, to be honest.
For the better class times … we were able to access data for which classes are the hardest for each major …. A lot of those classes aren’t even offered every semester. So we’re going to give that data to our academic senators and really empower them to advocate properly using data as to which classes need to have better class times and more class sections.
Lastly, classroom technology would be utilizing the SPICE (Special Projects for Improving the Classroom Environment) Committee to get better software and just classroom technology in general, there’s a committee that controls the funding for that, and we really want to utilize that committee.
A major concern of students every year is parking. The university’s estimating a 1.15% increase in enrollment, yet students already feel that there isn’t enough parking, so what are your ideas on transportation to alleviate some of those concerns?
Singh: It would encourage students to take the bus if they can, because the Class Pass is basically a free bus pass for Foothill Transit, and basically what students can do is if they live near or around (the campus), they can just take the bus for free. It’s actually kind of already in the works, the university is basically down for that, it’s just working on finding the funding for it. We’re just really pushing for that to pass without impacting student fees by using existing fees.
Yu and Singh lobbied students to apply for student government positions for the next academic year. Those applications are set to be up on the ASI website in the coming weeks. They also encouraged communication with students on their Instagram accounts: @lucyjyu and @manshaansingh.
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